Upgrading the followers

So you’ve been bitten by the mini-game of sending garrison followers out on missions and you’ve leveled some to level 100.

What now?

Well, when followers reach level 100 they’ll have an item level of 600 and you’ll be able to upgrade their weapons and armory; but why would you want to upgrade your followers?

The rewards

As you increase the item level of your followers, missions with better rewards appear. These range from gear for your character to legendary quest items. The breakpoints for missions are at every 15 ilvls your followers have.

Item level Missions Some of the rewards
600 WoWHead
615 WoWHead
630 WoWHead
645 WoWHead Highmaul raid missions
660 WoWHead Blackrock Foundary raid missions

This is coming when 6.1 has been released

The raid missions can provide some nice gear for players – they give you an item which contains an item from the raid you can use. The item is from the tier above the level you have “been making progress on” where Blizzard have defined that to mean killing 15 bosses at that level. So kill 15 bosses in Heroic Highmaul and the Highmaul raid mission will give you a mythic item. If you’re considered to be progressing on mythic bosses then you’ll get a mythic item and 1,000g.

As you can see there are significant rewards to be had for upgrading your followers to handle the harder missions. This is on top of followers having the abilities to counter the threats on the mission – that’s another discussion completely!

At the moment the highest you can boost a follower’s item level to is 655; this limit will be increased with the release of 6.1.


Once followers have reached level 100 you’ll start to see missions which reward follower upgrade items appear. At first you’ll just have access to the 615 weapon / armor sets and +3 ilvl upgrades. Fortunately you’ll also have missions which reward weapon and armor tokens which create an uncommon (+3), rare (+6) or epic (+9) enhancements.

From my experience with alts I can say that whilst you can upgrade followers this way, it will be a slow process and it’ll take time and luck to build a good stable of followers up with the abilities and traits to do the multi-threat missions the better rewards come from.

Salvage Yard

The salvage yard is a small building which gives you a chance to get salvage from follower missions, with the best salvage coming from level 100 missions. The chance for getting salvage increases with the level of salvage yard you have.

The salvage yard plans require a quest chain to be completed before you can obtain them – it starts with the quest Defungination in the south of the Spires of Arak. The quest requires level 96 so this isn’t a place you’ll have early on in your time on Dreanor. The quest chain is essentially cleaning up after the Goblins’ race for profit hit a little bump and, like so many Goblin inventions, exploded in an impressive fashion. By finishing of the entire chain – pretty much all of the quests in the area for the goblins you’ll gain the Salvage yard plans and also Kimzee Pinchwhistle, a level 97 follower with the engineering trait.

From experience there is a 1 in 3 chance of a follower upgrade item being in Salvage and you’ll get these from just doing missions anyway.

With the level 3 Salvage Yard you’re guarenteed salvage from level 100 missions and you have a chance of getting nice class specific transmog gear along with a very low chance of 665 epics.

Dwarven Bunker / War Mill

The Dwarven Bunker – known as the War Mill to the Horde – is a large building which at level 2 allows you exchange garrison resources for follower upgrades and iron horde scraps.

Each work order costs 20 garrison resources and there is ~40% chance per work order of getting a follower upgrade.

You’ll probably end up with a lot of Iron Horde Scraps doing this – that’s the most common item I’ve gotten doing the Dwarven Bunker work orders. Whilst this can be good for transmog, you need to run instances for the iron horde helms, shoulders and belts required as well as the Iron Horde Scraps to purchase the transmog items for those slots.

Thoughts on now and the future

Using upgrades from missions, salvage and Dwarven Bunker I’ve done a fairly good job of upgrading my level 100 followers’ item level – I got the achievement below today!

Item Level Force

That said, I have found I’ve been getting more weapon upgrades than armor. To the point that even my inactive level 100 followers have been 615 weapons and I’ve got a stack of the 615 weapons in my bags! This just could me being unlucky, but so far I’ve found a bias towards weapons over armor.

In the future I’d like more ways to choose the follower upgrades – perhaps being able to purchase them from the Dwarven Bunker / War Mill for Iron Horde Scraps or directly via Garrison Resources.

2015/01/16 Update: fresh from the 6.1 PTR – there is a daily quest in the Dwarven Bunker / War Mill to turn 25 Iron Horde Scraps into follower upgrade items!

6.1 PTR: Iron Horde Scrap daily

The numbers

Back in December I started tracking what was coming back from the Salvage Yard and Dwarven Bunker due to concerns about the drop rates of follower upgrades after upgrading to the level 3 salvage yard – I’d communicated via Twitter to the WoW devs that something was up & had a “Show us the numbers” post. Whilst getting those numbers the drop rates from the Salvage Yard were tweaked and changes were made to how it worked – the guarenteed salvage from a level 100 mission for a level 3 yard came in here.

So I threw away my previous numbers and took them again over a week long period from 11th to 17th December. Now its possible that there have been changes to the drop rates since then, but if so they’ve been stealth ones not noted on hotfix or patch notes.

To get the items below I ran 63 missions and spent 860 garrison resources to run 43 Dwarven Bunker work orders.

  Salvage Yard Dwarven Bunker
Count 63 43
garrison-upgrade-weapon-green +3 3 6
garrison-upgrade-weapon-blue +6 0 0
garrison-upgrade-weapon-purple +9 2 2
garrison-weapon-green 615 0 2
garrison-weapon-blue 630 2 0
garrison-weapon-purple 645 1 0
garrison-upgrade-armor-green +3 6 6
garrison-upgrade-armor-blue +6 3 2
garrison-upgrade-armor-purple +9 1 0
garrison-armor-green 615 3 0
garrison-armor-blue 630 0 0
garrison-armor-purple 645 0 0
Totals 21 18
Percent 33% 42%
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